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How to Select the Best Background Music for Your Business

When people think of background music, they typically think of scores for movies and television or radio stations. However, the type of music that you play in your business can have a serious impact on your sales and customer experience.

Music extends far more than just a song you hear, it’s an impactful resource for businesses who wish to stand out from their competitors, engage with their customers, uphold their reputation and create their desired environment. Music has a very compelling ability to create, shape, and change emotions, people, behaviors, and thoughts.

It’s a powerful tool to engage your customers and change the experience they have in your establishment, be it a hotel, restaurant, bar, co-working space, or shop. By choosing the right music to be played at the right time, you can

Because of these effects on customers choosing the right ambient music to play in your store or brick-and-mortar shop is extremely important. For background music to have the desired effects, you typically cannot just choose to play your favorite songs.

It's important instead to look at the research concerning the effects of music on behavior. Moreover, there are a number of legal considerations that must be accounted for. Some music is royalty-free, while other music requires that you pay a fee for playing it in your business.

In this article, we will cover all the essentials that you need to know about choosing the best background music for your business so that you can best take advantage of this tool while avoiding any legal issues.

Key Components of Music and How They Affect Customer Behavior

1. Tempo

Tempo is the pace at which the beat moves. When a song plays at a fast pace, we move faster. If the song’s pace is slow, we move slower. Studies show that shoppers will match the tempo playing inside a supermarket. When high-tempo music is played, consumers spend less time browsing because they move more quickly through the store.

When slower music is played, customers spend more time browsing, which can lead to impulse purchases. Knowing this, restaurants can play fast-tempo music to turn tables faster and seat more guests, and retail stores can play slower music to increase shopper browsing time.

2. Volume

Volume is the output level of music ranging from silent to loud. Studies discovered that when noisy music plays in a supermarket, consumers spend less time in the store; when softer music plays, consumers spend more time in the store. Higher volume level in supermarkets negatively affects final ticket sales. Volume that is too jarring can create a distressed response in shoppers.

3. Genre

Genre is the type of music such as holiday, soft rock, rap, jazz, pop, etc. Each form of music genre affects consumers on an individual basis. Studies show that jazz and lounge music increases the amount of money consumers spend.

Interestingly, classical music leads to the purchase of more expensive selections in wine stores. Companies should play music genres that align with the target audiences and the experiences the brand wants to evoke (for example, a fine dining restaurant versus a local bar with live music).

4. Music Mode

Music Mode can be either major or minor. A 2011 study discovered that when mode and tempo perfectly combine, in-store sales increase. When downtempo music in minor (slow and sad) plays, in-store purchases increase. However, when downtempo music in major (slow and happy) are played, there is no noticeable increase in purchases.

Ways Music Can Help Your Business

1. Enhance the Environment

Music could help set the tone, boost the mood, and create a more upbeat atmosphere. This can help to make customers and employees feel more welcome & relaxed and could improve their overall experience.

2. Increase Customer Engagement

Music can be an important part of day-to-day life for many people, which is why something could seem lacking if customers do not have it to listen to while they shop. Playing it in your retail store could not only provide a more entertaining environment but could also help to make your customers feel more engaged and make their visit to your stores more memorable.

3. Stand Out from the Competition

These days standing out from your competition is about much more than just how your business operates. It’s about the whole customer experience. Music could make your business unique. It can be as much a part of a business’ identity as its name or décor. Carefully selected music that is relatable to your business can complement your brand, distinguish you and help you stay ahead of the competition.

4. Increase Employee Engagement

Music could contribute to creating a better working environment, promoting engagement, collaboration, and motivation, helping to engage your staff with your business, and helping improve morale. This could lead to greater productivity as well as improved service levels for your customers.

Listening to music at work could relax and focus the mind, possibly preventing staff from feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This can also help to improve the efficiency and quality of work, as well as help improve the satisfaction and overall engagement of your employees.

5. Increase Customer Loyalty and Retention

Music can make customers feel more concentrated, involved, and focused on their shopping experience, which could mean they stay for longer and are potentially more likely to complete their purchases. If customers have a more enjoyable shopping experience in your business, then they are more likely to become loyal customers and come back for more.

6. Attract New Customers

The style, volume, and genre of music that you play could have an influence on the type of customers you attract. Music could have the potential to help your business generate new customers from a range of audiences.

7. Set the Spending Mood

Music can set the spending mood by creating an upbeat and positive atmosphere. The music you play could reflect seasons, events, trends, and occasions, encouraging customers to make relatable purchases as a response. The right music could influence consumer behavior and potentially boost spending as a result.

8. Soundtrack Your Brand

Music could make your business unique. It can be as much a part of a business’ identity as its name or décor. The right soundtrack could reflect both your customers and your staff. Music could help to give your business an identity and ensure it retains a friendly and welcoming feel.

Legal Considerations When Choosing Music for Your Business

Copyright law doesn’t just protect the rights to copy or sell music. It also protects the rights to publicly display, broadcast or perform music. Therefore, playing the latest Taylor Swift music publicly in your store or retail location or office space is technically just as illegal as generating bootleg CDs of Taylor Swift’s music and trying to sell those CDs.

Violating a copyright is a big deal. Civil penalties can include statutory damages of up to $75,000 per infringing use (i.e. per song per number of times played) and attorneys fees.

There are three major Performing Rights Organizations (PRO’s) who represent the artists behind most of the music out there: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. If you want to play music from a performer that one of these organizations represent, you must obtain the right music licensing.

There are different types of licenses required for playing copyrighted music and the manner/venue in which the music is being heard determines what type of licensing is required.

For example, as a consumer, if you subscribe to Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music, the license to use such services require that the music is played for personal use only. So, the fee for these services will run you around $10 dollars a month.

Whereas if the music is going to be broadcast for business use, such as for commercial use, the license needs to be specific for commercial music. These licenses can vary depending on your type of business and how many patrons visit.

Artists, songwriters, and publishers are paid based on licensing agreements that utilize their music. When personal use licenses are used for playing music in public places, the result is the artists that created the composition are not compensated fairly for their work.

This “unfairness” translates into some serious cash. This is why the music industry is so strict and why it is important to make sure that you have obtained a public performing license for the music you play.

Luckily, there are companies that offer music solutions and music video streaming services that do not cost your business money to play and do not cause copyright infringement.

One such company is loop, which has a large catalog of music and music videos that you are able to legally play in your business, so you can get all of the benefits of a music streaming service without any worry about the legality of the enterprise.

Steps for Choosing the Best Background Music for Business

1. Identify Your Brand Identity

The first step that you will want to take when choosing what kind of background music to play in your business is to decide on the type of brand identity you want to convey to customers. If you are a high-end shop selling high-end goods, such as wine, you will certainly want to play a different kind of music than a retail store or small business selling clothes for youth or young professionals, which might require uplifting music at a higher volume.

Because music has such a large effect on brand identity, you have to make sure that the music that you are going to play fits that identity. Simply playing any kind of music can actually have the opposite of the desired effects if it does not match the brand identity and atmosphere that your clientele expect from your business.

Once you decide upon your brand identity and the type of clientele you are trying to draw to your business, then you can start to consider things like tempo, volume, mode, and genre. Music is just one part of the entire aesthetic experience and atmosphere of your business, and the music, just like all other elements, should be consistent and unique.

2. Make Sure You Have the Right Hardware

When people are deciding what type of music to play in their business, a factor that they often overlook is that the type of music that they play is compatible with the music playing hardware that you have set up in your store.

No matter what type of customer base you are tailoring your image to, one factor that remains important for any business is that the music quality is good. It doesn’t matter if the music you play perfectly fits your brand identity if the music quality is bad. Music that is poor quality will set the wrong ambiance for any business This is why business owners will want to make sure that you have speakers that can convey the quality of the music, even at low and high volumes.

In some cases, the type of hardware that you have will partially dictate the type of music that you can play. For example, you shouldn’t play music with heavy bass lines if your speakers are not equipped to play heavy bass with fidelity and quality.

3. Ask Your Customers What Type of Music They Like

Engaging your customers is a great way to improve the shopping experience and help generate loyal customers. You don’t always have to guess what type of music might appeal to your customer base. Sometimes it is best to ask them. This can really show your customers that you care about their experience in your store, and if they start to hear music that they have suggested, then this will make them feel like you are a business that listens and cares about its customers.

4. Choose the Right Streaming Service

As we have mentioned before, choosing the right music to play also requires that you consider legal implications. Once you have taken the three steps enumerated above, you can search for the right streaming service providers that provide playlists full of royalty-free music that best fits what you are looking for and has the right pricing.

Choose the Mood

As we have covered in this article, the type of music that your business plays is integral to the entire shopping experience. There are so many benefits that come when you play background music that is in line with your brand and your store.

It is important to remember that music is just one part of a whole. Music helps set the atmosphere but it must also cohere with the other aspects of your business. When choosing the right type of music for your business, you will also have to consider all the other aspects of your business so that you create a unique and distinct personality for your store.